Wednesday, 31 January 2018

the heart of darkness

The title of this post may be a recognizable phrase, deriving from the title of the novel by Joseph Conrad, but you may wonder what it can possibly have to do with cycling. Allow me to explain.

For the past few months, whenever I’ve been cycling west of Fanling, I’ve been avoiding the Drainage Services access road along the Sheung Yue River because of construction work—the government is spending millions of dollars here on an entirely pointless cycle track. A couple of months ago, I was idly cycling along Ho Sheung Heung Pai Fung Road, the main road out of the village of Ho Sheung Heung, when I happened to spot an alleyway on my left:

This was completely fortuitous, because on almost every occasion since, there have been two cars parked in front of the entrance, although they don’t actually block access to the alley. Anyway, I’m sure you know the script by now: I wanted to find out whether it led anywhere interesting.

 Within a short distance, the route passes between two large industrial sheds:

As you can see, the passage between the sheds gradually narrows, until the clearance on each side is only about 5cm. It also becomes quite dark, and on a couple of subsequent occasions I’ve had to stop because I couldn’t see the sides. The glare in front was playing havoc with both my sense of balance and my sense of direction!

Paula has told me that this section is so disorienting that she feels anxious cycling across the tiny bridge seen in the next two photos, which is just a few metres beyond the exit from the dark section, despite routinely riding along paths with far greater drops off the edge with no worries whatsoever.

The rest of this short path is straightforward:

The light in the distance marks the end of this alleyway as it emerges onto Ho Sheung Heung Road. Until a couple of weeks ago, I turned left here and cycled along the road to the start of ‘long tall sally’, but that was because I was so focused on traffic that I failed to notice the start of another interesting alley on the far side of the road:

I actually explored this alley originally from the opposite direction, and only because my usual route was blocked by a stationary truck and I wondered whether there was a viable alternative. There is, and I’ll be reporting on this path in due course.

As far as ‘the heart of darkness’ is concerned, it’s easy to avoid by simply following the road, so I do this if it’s sunny and only take on the dark passage when the sky is dull and overcast. The disorientation that one experiences can be almost hallucinatory on bright days.


  1. Fraction of a second of blindness can be experienced right at the exit of the dark alley when riding on a bright and glorious day...

    1. I experience the ‘blindness’ before reaching the exit!

  2. Is this the path where Rowan had that small incident? It looks like it is.

    1. It certainly is Vlad. By the way, note the last photo. That’s now where the route goes next.


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